The Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) is a very important facility that must not be tampered with. NG-CDF cash is not pocket money for MPs. If anything, such an important facility should be strengthened.
It facilitates important development needs such as roads, school infrastructure, security infrastructure and bursaries. Leaders are elected by everybody and it is only fair the NG-CDF is used to improve the livelihoods of constituents.
When Constituency Development Fund (CDF) acquired its new name, National Government Constituencies Development Fund (NG-CDF), it meant that there would be more money for schools and security-related projects such as police stations and police posts, as well as bursaries.
This meant that CDF committees in constituencies were to be disbanded and fresh ones be set up under the new system. The MPs were to be more of observers than active participants in deciding how the fund is used, they were to also mobilize communities in coming up with projects that would benefit the whole community.
Nevertheless, the MPs forcefully oversee use of the funds and have a say on who sits in management committees.
Consequently, the Fund has been a pet project for MPs, who over the years have been using it to buy loyalty and financial muscle to campaign against their opponents, read (2022 succession battles).
About Sh5 billion is allocated to the NG-CDF in each of the 290 constituencies annually but the audit has revealed many constituencies have no documentation to back up huge expenses.
If managed better, NG-CDF money does small things with big impact, such as bursaries, improved roads and hospital infrastructure.
Former Auditor-General Edward Ouko had raised the red flag over blatant misuse of billions of shillings allocated to the National Government-Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF).
In the report, the Auditor General further revealed that bursary funds had also become a cash cow for “greedy” leaders. For instance in Laikipia East, Sh9.3 Million was set aside for bursary purposes with Limuru and Mukurweini constituencies allocating Sh4.9 and Sh5 Million respectively, funds that Ouko said could not be accounted for.
Former Kasarani MP Elizabeth Ongoro and her husband Ferdinand Masha Kenga have been summoned over Ksh. 48 million that was meant for construction of Kasarani Girls’ High School. Eight years ago, Masha Kenga was arrested and charged with stealing Ksh. 1.9 million from a CDF kitty.
The outspoken Gatundu South legislator Moses Kuria who has in the past accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of abandoning the Mt Kenya region in terms of development has a case to answer after it was revealed that he had incorporated his relatives in Gatundu’s CDF committee who went ahead and allocated a company run by his wife big tenders.
MPs, and women representatives who ought to oversee cash utilization, tend to deploy the money with political goals in mind.
They either spend it in areas where they have strong support at the exclusion of other areas or devote the resources to activities that give short-term populist results but are hardly sustainable.
Thus, ridiculous cases have been reported of MPs spending the cash on funerals or building houses for constituents. Often, projects stall when new MPs are elected.
Matters have been compounded with devolution, which came with a bigger basket for cash flow to the regions, creating room for project duplication or delay in execution.
Another fund that is equally being used as a tool to campaign for 2022 succession politics is NGAAF. NGAAF is anchored on the Vision 2030 development blue print under the Social Pillar to address the plight of vulnerable groups through enhanced access to financial facilities for socio-economic empowerment among women, youth, Persons with Disabilities, needy children and elderly persons in the country.
Contrary to this, the Inua Mama Initiative has since politicized this fund and only supporting women groups that have aligned themselves to DP Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid. It is no longer on need bases but on ‘whose side you are on’ bases.
In Laikipia for instance, there is one group of women who have received cheques of Ksh4million and Ksh2.5million within the same budget year yet other groups have been applying severally for the same and not even a coin has been approved.
In his financial year ending June 2018 report, Auditor General Edward Ouko painted a gloomy picture of the ongoing at the kitty. These defeats the efforts woman MPs put in agitating for development funds similar to the National Government Constituency Development Fund.
Consequently, investigative authorities must take up the Auditor-General’s reports and institute comprehensive inquiries with a view of prosecuting those who misappropriate or misuse CDF cash.